Last I reported, the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission emerged from deliberating in executive session to vote, without public discussion, to appoint Colleen Mathis the fifth commissioner and IRC chair.
Since then, the IRC held another meeting on March 9th, the first I heard of which was after today's meeting was called to order at 1pm at the Arizona Medical Board's offices in Scottsdale. Among the things accomplished at the March 9th meeting, Commissioners Freeman and Herrera were named vice-chairs.
Of course, had not the Associated Press picked up the story to report that the commission would meet today, I wouldn't have known that either. It seems that the IRC really didn't have a way to make sure the public was made aware of meetings 48 hours ahead of time, as required by law. The IRC relied on Secretary of State Ken Bennett to "post" the agenda on his website. Of course, who knew to look there? And Bennett's public information liaison, Matt Roberts, sent the agenda out to his press email list. And even though I gave him my card at the March 1rst meeting, and he sent me information that I had requested of him, he still had no idea who I was when I called him after reading about today's meeting in news stories yesterday. Some communication director, eh?
Okay, I'm done whining about that. LOL.
Early in the meeting, in the call for public comment, local attorney Manny Bustamante put the commission on notice, if I heard him correct, on behalf of the Hispanic Center for Constitutional Law, that he was concerned about the potential dilution of minority voting rights in Hispanic Congressional Districts (right now, those are CDs 4 and 7, represented in Congress by Ed Pastor and Raul Grijalva). Bustamante cited recent SCOTUS decision in Bartlett v Strickland which dealt with claims of dilution of minority voting rights in section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.
Assistant Attorney General Christopher Munn provided training on the Open Meeting law and Parliamentary procedure.
In considering RFP language for hiring mapping and legal consultants and position description language for hiring an executive director and possible other staff, and selection of office space, the commissioners sounded pretty comfortable in conducting public discussions. Clearly, they know they will be under a microscope for several months and they've all been doing homework, study and research on related law and the history of the first IRC ten years ago.
I'm working on obtaining documents presented at the March 9th meeting and after doing some research, I will post further detail on both meetings.
So far, it looks like they are making good progress on learning curve issues and hopefully all future deliberations on material (significant) issues will take place along the way in accordance with the Open Meeting law. If so, I'm cautiously optimistic we'll get a good final result.